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Will the Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner Make Team Canada?

NHL Predictions; NHL Rumours

During the traditionally usual time for the all-star break next season, the NHL is experimenting with the NHL 4 Nations Face-Off. The tournament will be a traditional round-robin format including Canada, USA, Finland, and Sweden. What that means for Canadian hockey fans, is the naming of a prospective Team Canada. That is the topic we will explore in today’s article. Is the Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner a shoo-in for the team selection? Also, we will really dig in from a Leafs perspective on all the recent rumours surrounding possibly moving Marner.

NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angels Kings

Will Team Canada Call Upon Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner?

How can the Toronto Maple Leafs afford to give up Mitch Marner? With all the talk of trading Mitch Marner, let’s look at it from a slightly different angle. The fact is, giving up a Team Canada calibre player can be tough to recover from, for any organization. Some examples with obvious recent history are the Ottawa Senators having traded Mark Stone or the Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price retiring. Moreover, from the opposite perspective, in the emergence of someone like Josh Morrissey who has helped turn the Winnipeg Jets into contenders. Morrissey may not be a lock for the Team Canada blueline, but he is around the top ten. And he goes to show having a player of that calibre on your roster is a huge boost to the lineup.

Mitch Marner’s Statline as a Toronto Maple Leafs Playmaker

Let’s look at the statistical value of Mitch Marner’s play for the Toronto Maple Leafs and imagine how it could translate to Team Canada. He has played eight seasons in the NHL and played in the playoffs each of those seasons. For starters, Marner has been, for the most part, very healthy and appeared in 576 games. Through that time, he is a terrific career 1.11 PPG. He has been an incredibly productive NHLer throughout his career thus far. Marner’s three best career assist totals are 69, 68, and 62. In 2023-24, Marner had 26 goals and 59 assists for 85 points. In other words, very consistent, very productive.

Marner Is More Than a Stats Man

Marner also brings intangibles. With all his impressive offensive numbers, he backs it up defensively as well. He has finished in the top-five of voting for three major individual awards within his career. The Calder Trophy as league’s top rookie, the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play, and just last year, he finished third in Selke Trophy voting as league’s top defensive forward. For the past two years in a row, his ice time has been exactly 21:17. He’s the player out there in the last couple minutes of periods and also killing penalties.

Marner’s biggest downfall so far regarding his Maple Leafs’ legacy has been his playoff performances. In his eight post-season trips, he has played a minimum of five games in each of those playoffs. Only once has he scored more than two goals. So despite a passable grade for 50 points in 57 career playoff games, the 11 goals isn’t good enough. Not in Leaf land anyway.

Did the Leafs Stumble upon a Solution?

If we are looking for solutions, the biggest thing for Marner is having linemates that give him space in the playoffs. The Leafs did, almost accidentally, do a great job of finding that for Marner for a stretch against the Boston Bruins in round one of the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi did a great job of finding Marner time and space with the puck once Auston Matthews went down with injury, and the trio formed a line together. Matthew Knies would be another example of a player that can play with Marner in springtime hockey.

Moreover, playmakers aren’t supposed to be expected to be physical, and go into the corners. Their skill allows them to avoid attacking in those areas. Unlike muckers like Zach Hyman or Knies, who have done a great job of going into the dirty areas while playing with Marner or Matthews.

The Maple Leafs and the Maple Leaf

The point of the Toronto Maple Leafs keeping Mitch Marner is that it means something to be a best-on-best Team Canada member. Throughout the past 50 plus years, the Leafs have done a poor job of producing Team Canada players. Ron Ellis, Darryl Sittler, and Paul Henderson are all very notable members of the exclusive club, but, hey, that was in 1972. A more recent member would be none-other than Curtis ‘Cujo’ Joseph playing back in 2002 for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics gold medal team. Furthermore, the 2010 and 2014 gold medal teams didn’t include a single Maple Leaf player.

Is Marner a lock for Team Canada? Things are a bit different these days. Even Leaf defender Morgan Rielly is landing somewhere in the top ten along with Morrissey for a spot on the team. For Marner’s inclusion, from a statistical output point-of-view, most assuredly, yes, he’s in. But is there any politics or other factors weighing on the decision-makers? No, not enough to keep Marner off the 2025 Team Canada.

Some People Fighting for Spots

Marner will be competing against players like Mathew Barzal or Sean Couturier. Even just saying their names specifically, you’d think Marner gets the nod. Barzal had a solid 80-point, in 80 games season. Meanwhile, Couturier brings a more defensive impact to his game, scoring 38 points in 74 games. Marner quickly propels him up the candidacy list when you ponder possible line combinations involving Marner. He could play on either of Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, or Connor Bedard‘s lines for instance, and become the true playmaking option.

So, is Marner a likely member of Team Canada? Yes. Should the Leafs look to move the underperforming playoff player? Based on the influence of having Mitch Marner on Team Canada, and what that will do for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Then, no, they should do what it takes to keep him around. At least give him a distraction-free contract year to play and earn the cheque he’s owed over the next year or two.

Main photo credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports




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